A Load Off Your Mind
Engineering professors are devising a brain scanner that will sense when you’re going into information overload
Picture an air-traffic controller tracking 10 planes approaching an airport. Now imagine he’s having trouble focusing on all 10 aircraft, perhaps because he’s been up all night or just has a lot on his mind. What would happen if his computer sensed his mental fatigue, removed one plane from his oversight and reassigned it to a controller who just started her shift?
The scenario might seem like science fiction, but with new technology being developed by Tufts researchers Robert Jacob and Sergio Fantini, it could be quite real someday. Jacob and Fantini have developed a brain-scanning device that allows a computer to sense the level of mental exertion of its user and adjust tasks accordingly to achieve the correct balance between boredom and overload.
“Humans and computers are two powerful information processors connected by this miserably narrow bandwidth—a mouse and a keyboard,” says Jacob, a professor of computer science in the School of Engineering. Jacob’s challenge is to find ways to create a more direct connection between machine and human brain to make both more efficient.
But the bigger trauma is Macklemore’s continual conflation of homophobia with Hip Hop and ultimately Blackness and Black people. Consider the beginning of the second verse of “Same Love”: If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me/ have you read the YouTube comments lately?”
Hip-hop has been queer for years before Macklemore was even born. The first rap song came out of the disco tradition, rappers like Cee-Lo Green and Andre 3000 have been doing drag for years, Common came out against writing homophobic lyrics, not to mention the countless rappers and artists who have supported Frank Ocean. While homophobic lyrics are pervasive in Hip Hop, they have never been more homophobic or heteronormative than any rock or pop song. Secondly, if 87 percent of YouTube users are White and 54 percent male, it’s guys who look like you and listen to rap like you do, who perpetuate that narrative of hateful Hip Hop? He goes on to speak about how “we” are complacent to homophobia: “We become so numb to what we’re saying/ A culture founded from oppression/ yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em.”
The most accurate statement in this stanza is that Hip Hop is a culture founded on oppression, but whose? Not Macklemore — Hip Hop was not grown, marketed and exploited on the backs of handsome, straight, white men.
If all the work I had was just a pile of papers that I could stay up late doing, long into the night, and then pass in tomorrow with a glazed smile after four hours of sleep, none of this would seem very daunting. I actually like all of that. But alas. It isn’t.
This week is going to suck. :)
Act 2, Scene 2
Last night and this morning were the first times that it wasn’t unbearably hot in my room. I live on the top floor of a Tufts owned house, in what is a rather nice two person apartment. In a few days, I imagine it will seem completely like home.
There’s a generation of us who seem to be just over the whole experience of college. A friend of mine with whom I spoke last night, who also spent the time from January to the end of summer doing non-student things, used similar words, and I realized that they described my feelings pretty well, and in a way I hadn’t been able to articulate.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I remarked. I think we’ll come to balance the “normality” we left behind with that otherness, and both experiences will be richer for it. But I’ve been looking around me the last few days, and what I feel verges disturbingly on vanity. Another good reason to hope for that balance!
In other news, it looks like the old Sunday adage will hold, where I can begin the day after 1 pm and still finish everything. But Sunday isn’t over yet, so I guess we’ll see.
First school day in eight months. More to say about the choice of song later!